In Arizona, the implications of being associated with white collar crimes can be distressing. These non-violent financial crimes, while seemingly faceless, can impact individuals and their families.
With studies indicating that the U.S. sees financial losses of over $500 billion annually due to white collar crimes.
Whether you're grappling with accusations or seeking clarity on the matter, this article, from Kolsrud Law Offices, aims to guide and support. Here, we shed light on what white collar crimes encompass, the telltale signs of being under investigation, and the steps you should consider if facing such allegations in Arizona.
What is White Collar Crime?
White-collar crime is a term coined to describe non-violent crimes that are committed in a professional or business setting.
Unlike blue-collar crimes, which are often physically violent and occur in a more casual setting, white collar crimes revolve around deceit, concealment, or violation of trust, and are motivated by the desire for financial gain.
Such crimes can have a vast impact, leading to significant financial losses for companies, investors, employees, and even entire economies. The Arizona Revised Statutes detail several of these offenses.
➤Examples of white-collar crimes:
- Fraud: This broad category can encompass various deceptive acts like insurance fraud, credit card fraud, mortgage fraud, and more. One of the most referenced statutes in Arizona relating to fraud is ARS § 13-2310, which concerns fraudulent schemes and artifices.
- Embezzlement: Taking money or property by someone who is entrusted with its care on behalf of another person or entity. This often involves employees taking funds from their employer.
- Insider Trading: This is the illegal practice of trading on the stock exchange to one's advantage using confidential information.
- Identity Theft: Illegally obtaining and using another person's personal data, typically for financial gain. ARS § 13-2008 is the Arizona statute that makes it illegal to take the identity of another person or entity.
- Money Laundering: The process by which large amounts of illegally obtained money (from drug trafficking, terrorist activity, or other serious crimes) is given the appearance of having originated from a legitimate source.
- Tax Evasion: The act of not paying taxes that are owed, often by misrepresenting one's financial status to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state tax agencies.
- Cybercrimes: These are crimes committed via the internet and can range from data breaches to online fraud.
- Bribery: Offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting something of value to influence an action of an official or other person in charge.
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Signs You're the Target of an Investigation
Being the target of a white-collar crime investigation can be a daunting and overwhelming experience.
Early detection of such an investigation can offer valuable time to prepare a defense and consult with experienced legal representation.
➤Here are some common indications:
- Direct Contact from Law Enforcement: One of the most overt signs is when law enforcement officers, either local or federal, reach out to you directly. They might ask questions or seek information related to your professional dealings or financial transactions.
- Unusual Activity at Work: You might notice unexpected audits, sudden and frequent meetings without clear agendas, or external professionals examining company records.
- Subpoenas or Legal Notices: Receiving a subpoena or a request for documents is a strong indication of some legal inquiry or proceeding. Such notices may demand financial records, emails, or other pertinent documentation.
- Inquiries to Friends and Associates: Investigators may contact people close to you, including colleagues, business associates, or even personal acquaintances, to gather information or testimonies. If your peers mention being approached for such purposes, it's a possible sign.
- Bank and Financial Notifications: Your financial institution may inform you of requests they've received for your financial records or unusual activity on your accounts.
- Surveillance Indicators: While more discreet, you might notice unfamiliar vehicles parked near your residence or workplace, or feel like you're being followed.
- Increased Electronic Correspondence Scrutiny: A sudden surge in cybersecurity checks or indications that your emails and electronic communications are being monitored can be red flags.
- Frozen Assets or Accounts: In more pronounced cases, if your bank accounts get frozen or assets get seized without clear justification, it's a significant indication of a serious investigation.
If you identify any of these signs, it's important not to panic. Jumping to conclusions or making impulsive decisions can be harmful to your case.
Instead, consult with a criminal defense attorney well-versed in Arizona law, especially those sections within the Arizona Revised Statutes related to white-collar crimes. They can provide clarity on your situation and guide you on the best course of action.
What Agencies Investigate White Collar Crimes?
White collar crimes, due to their complexity and the vast scope of their operations, often draw the attention of several investigative agencies.
Some offenses might strictly fall within a state's jurisdiction, while others, especially those with inter-state elements, can attract federal attention. Understanding the various agencies and their roles can offer insight into the magnitude and nature of the investigation one might be facing.
Arizona Department of Financial Institutions: This state agency is primarily responsible for overseeing and regulating financial entities within Arizona. They play a pivotal role in investigating malpractices related to financial institutions, mortgage brokers, and certain investment opportunities.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): On a national level, the FBI often takes the lead in probing significant white collar crimes, especially those that span multiple states or involve large sums of money. They look into securities fraud, bank fraud, embezzlement, and more.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): The SEC is the federal agency that regulates the securities industry. They predominantly investigate securities and investment fraud, insider trading, and other violations related to federal securities laws.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Tax evasion and fraud are white collar crimes that fall under the purview of the IRS. They have specialized agents trained to detect and investigate financial inconsistencies or deliberate attempts to defraud the government.
United States Secret Service: While primarily known for their protective duties, the Secret Service also investigates financial crimes, especially those related to counterfeiting and credit card fraud.
Arizona Attorney General’s Office: On the state level, the Attorney General’s Office will often spearhead investigations into various forms of white collar crimes, especially when they impact Arizona residents or businesses.
Local Law Enforcement: Sometimes, especially for crimes with a more localized scope, city or county police departments can initiate and carry out investigations. They often collaborate with state and federal agencies if the situation escalates.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service: Crimes that involve mail fraud are typically investigated by this agency. They can step in when there are scams or frauds perpetrated via the postal service.
What Types of Evidence are Used to Prosecute White-Collar Crimes?
When prosecuting white collar crimes, the type of evidence used can be quite detailed. Unlike common crimes that might rely on things you can see and touch, white collar crime cases often depend on papers, digital records, and people's accounts.
- Bank Statements & Tax Forms: Core financial documents that can indicate discrepancies or unexplained transactions.
- Invoices & Money Lists: Tracking the flow of money, these can point out instances like fraud or theft by employees.
The Digital Trail:
- Emails & Texts: Communication records that may reveal intentions, knowledge, or even confessions.
- Call Logs & Browsing History: These can show patterns, connections, or interactions linked to the alleged crime.
- Eyewitness Accounts: Colleagues or acquaintances can shed light on unusual business behavior or validate claims.
- Internal Reports: Documents from within the organization can hint at awareness or discussions around the alleged wrongdoings.
Forensic Financial Analysis:
- Specialized Reviews: Experts dive deep into financial records, illuminating any hidden or unconventional activities.
- Contracts & Handwritten Notes: Despite our digital age, these can provide crucial insights into agreements or intentions.
- Surveillance Recordings: Audio or visual captures can chronicle significant events or conversations tied to the crime.
- Expert Testimonies: Individuals specialized in areas like finance or IT can clarify complex elements or validate other pieces of evidence.
If someone is facing charges for a white collar crime, it's important to understand that any evidence can be examined closely for its accuracy.
The way evidence was found, whether it's real, and how it's interpreted can all be questioned. With a good lawyer, especially one well-versed in Arizona law for these kinds of crimes, individuals can make sure they defend themselves properly.
Defenses Against White Collar Crimes
- Core Concept: Every white collar crime revolves around intent.
- Defense Angle: Demonstrating that actions resulted from misunderstandings, oversight, or even simple mistakes. If one's actions weren't rooted in deliberate criminal intent, it forms a strong defense.
Leaning on Expert Guidance
- Core Concept: Relying on professional advice to make decisions.
- Defense Angle: If decisions were made based on guidance from experts like lawyers or accountants, and one believed their actions were legal, it can counter accusations.
Challenging the Evidence
- Core Concept: The responsibility to prove guilt lies with the prosecution.
- Defense Angle: If the evidence against the accused isn't convincing or can be disputed, charges might not hold. Discrediting evidence or its sources is a common defense strategy.
Citing Coercion or Duress
- Core Concept: Actions taken under force or threats.
- Defense Angle: If one can show they acted under threats or force, making them commit actions against their will, it can be a valid defense. It's essential to provide proof of such coercion.
Bringing up the Statute of Limitations
- Core Concept: Legal time limits on pursuing charges.
- Defense Angle: If charges for a white collar crime are raised after the legal time limit has passed, it's a solid ground for defense.
- Core Concept: Being lured into committing a crime.
- Defense Angle: If it's evident that officers or agents encouraged someone to commit a crime they wouldn't have ordinarily committed, it's entrapment. However, it's not entrapment if they only provided a chance for the crime to be committed.
Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney
At Kolsrud Law Offices,we understand the serious implications of white-collar crime accusations. Our firm is dedicated to defending our clients, making sure their rights are protected and that they receive top-notch legal representation.
With years of combined expertise, our attorneys are well-versed in Arizona's laws and regulations. If you're under investigation or facing charges, remember that you don't have to face these challenges alone. Contact us at 480-680-9769, and let our team stand by your side.
An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006
Why Choose Josh Kolsrud
With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication
Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients
Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.
As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort